A Physician’s Conscience and Freedom ‘to Choose Whom to Serve'Carolyn McLeod (Western University)
University College 2105
1151 Richmond Street
London N6A 5B8
According to the International Women’s Health Coalition, there is a ‘growing global trend’ of health care professionals conscientiously refusing to provide abortions and other morally controversial reproductive services. In a forthcoming book, I explore just how free health care professionals should be to ‘choose whom to serve’ on grounds of conscience (American Medical Association, Principles of Medical Ethics). In this talk, I will focus on physicians and their freedom to refuse to accept new patients because of their conscientious objections. I will argue that this freedom should be significantly restricted because of the fiduciary relationship that physicians have with the public. This relationship gives rise to a duty of loyalty that physicians can violate when they turn prospective patients away because of the moral nature of the services that the patients seek.
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